WW Norton £12.99 (510pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
The Making of a Sonnet, Ed. Edward Hirsch & Eavan Boland
Friday 13 March 2009
Only 14 lines long (but sometimes not), divided just past the half-way line (but sometimes not), rhyming to a few fixed schemes (but sometimes not), the sonnet has for 700 years allowed poets to redesign a small but infinite room.
Steered by two fine poets, who write as lovers and makers of the form, this marvellous anthology separates its 500-odd poems into family groups, from 16th-century England to sonnets in translation (from Dante to Borges) and the mould-breakers.
From Petrarch or Spenser to Tony Harrison or Carol Ann Duffy, the world and its verse changes beyond measure. Yet this superb collection, as "friendly, decisive, readable and imaginative" as the editors wish, shows that poets still love to pass, and take, that little parcel of verse.
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